A First Look At Very Smart Brothas: The TV Pilot

***Assuming you all would have some questions about this trailer and the TV pilot, I took the liberty of learning telepathy so I’d be able to ask myself the most relevant questions you have in your heads. You’re welcome.***

So, when is the actual full pilot going to be released?

Great question! Unfortunately, I don’t have a full answer yet. But, I can tell you a few things.

There will be a private screening Saturday, September 21st in Burbank, California. There will also be public screenings at a yet to be determined time in both D.C. and Pittsburgh in September.

If you can’t make any of those, there’s always the New York Television Festival from October 21-26. The pilot is one of 47 selected for the Independent Pilot Competition, and it will be showcased there for fans and industry executives.

Is this really based on the lives of you, Panama, and Liz?

Kinda, sorta, but not really. The name of the TV blog and book are the same as in real life. But, while “Brandon” (the character based on me) and “Andre” (the character based on Panama) do share some similarities with us, David Hunter (“Brandon”) and Leo Breckenridge (“Andre”) did a great job of making the characters unique people instead of exact copies of people who already exist.

Also, if it was based on Liz’s life, there would be a lot more Bibles laying around. And orange juice. Bibles and orange juice.  

Who is Andrea Thornton?

Andrea is a very talented young screenwriter who also happens to be one of the executive producers. We first met a few years ago at a party while she was a grad student at Carnegie Mellon University. We stayed in touch, and after she graduated and relocated to L.A., Andrea and Earl (the founder of Solo Journey Productions) reached out to Panama and I to option Your Degrees… and turn it into a webseries. We (obviously) agreed and signed our names in blood.  Andrea and I wrote the script for eight six-minute long episodes. (Panama served as our consigliere.)

Wait. Webseries? I thought this was a TV pilot.

It is. When done with the first draft of the webseries, we decided it would be a better idea to shift focus and create a 22 minute long pilot instead. Why? Well, one of the bi products of the success of Issa Rae and Awkward Black Girl is that everyone and their step-momma has a webseries now. Since we aint like everyone else, we did something different.

Was that the guy from Heroes? How did you get him?

I have no idea.

Who are the actresses in the pilot?

Taja Simpson (“Rachel”—the one with the glasses and the, um, dress), Dominique Washington (“Chloe”—the one who “Brandon” attempts to approach), and Aerial Washington (“Chelsea”—the intern).

I know there were a couple more with speaking parts but…I don’t know their names.

Does it feel weird to see someone pretty much playing you on TV?

It didn’t…until 372 different people decided to ask me that question in the past couple months. So, now it does. Thank you.

I know this is “loosely” based on your lives, but did any of the stuff in the trailer actually happen to you?

Yes. A person did actually express to us that we write like we’re better looking than we are. I still don’t know what it means to write “handsome” (or write “ugly” for that matter), but I think it has something to do with prepositional phrases.

Anyway, those are all the questions I was able to conjure. If you have any more, please ask.

Also, let us know what you think. Did you like it? Hate it? Fall asleep during it? Want a phone number from one of the actors/actresses?

(And, regardless of what you think, like/share/tweet the f*ck out of it!)

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

A Very Special Thank You from VSB and Solo Journey Productions

I don’t know how to say this like a real OG would do, so I’ll just say it as a reformed G would say it…

…from the bottom of my heart, I almost teared up a bit. The generosity of everybody who donated and supported our dream and vision nearly broke me down. On the real, when we began this process, the piece that I feared most was the fundraising part. That was for a very simple reason: while we know we have one of the absolute best communities on the Internet, asking for money presents a whole new side of the game. It’s easy for people to show up everyday and leave their mark, good or bad. But when you decide to bring folks into your vision and goals and need to ask for help…well that’s when *CENSORED* gets real.

It’s like that moment when everybody’s joking and somebody pulls out a knife. Terrible analogy aside, asking people for money is one thing. Asking people to collectively cough up $20,000 is another.

My ninja, that’s a car.

So while I was optimistic, it’s still scary to ask for such a large amount of money. But then we dropped the campaign. And folks started donating. Then we got some rather large donations. That first large donation from the homey Derek…let me tell you, I almost didn’t believe Champ when he told me that we had somebody who wanted to drop $5(000) on it. I actually laughed in my car as I almost ran over a senior citizen. Her fault though. Real talk.

And when we crossed the $10K plateau, I was in total amazement. Champ can attest to this. We had these convos daily and even the fact that in the last 48 hours we raised almost $10,000 to cross the bridge. Point is, I’m in total awe and appreciation at the group of people we have here who think enough of our output and believe in all of us enough to hitch their wagon to the VSB brand, financially. If I could hug every person, I would. I do feel this need to personally thank everybody for every donation, no matter how big or small. It means that much to me. I’m not a person who is used to having to ask people things so my own independent issues came into play. So to see the community we have at VSB and the family and friends we have individually come through for us…well it just strengthens the resolve to deliver the absolute best product available.

Believe me when I say that our own standards here are high and we ain’t exactly the take no for an answer personality types. With that in mind, I would like to personally say thank you for believing in VSB. Thank you for sleepwalking with the kids as long as you have and being willing to take a chance on us. We won’t let you down. We can’t let you down. Your mama don’t wear no drawz? Well my mama didn’t raise no fools. From my hood to your hood, bangin’…bangin’…we are going to go hard in the paint.

Like R. Kelly said, “real talk”.

Thank you.

Danger,

-Panama Jackson

Although I was outwardly optimistic about the fundraising campaign, I honestly didn’t think we’d reach our goal. I’m flabbergasted and shit. That was the first and will be the last time I ever doubt VSB nation.

-Damon

VSPeeps! I’ve been coming to this site for the past few years and I honestly believe there is no place like it on the internet. Never have I come across a community of more intelligent, accomplished, fun, and hilarious people. You all have made this place special and if not for the VSB comment section I don’t know if I would have become so attached to this site. I’m so grateful to Champ, Panama, and Liz for creating this place, but I’m just as grateful to you all for making it what it is.

Thank you for being my e-sises, e-bros, and e-boos. Thank you teaching me new slang and new ways to recommend that someone have a seat. Thank you waiting up with me like a maniac till midnight and refreshing constantly in order to be first. Thank you for eating e-popcorn and e-snacks with me as we watch e-drama unfold. Thank you for engaging in delightfully flirtatious e-courtships. Thank you for the glitter. Thank for being resilient and for coming back even if you don’t always agree. Thank you for being awesome. And finally, thank you for donating and supporting this project. We won’t let you down. I love you all.

- <3 Andi

Thank you to everyone that contributed your time and money to help us produce this project and follow our dreams. The past 30 days have been an exciting experience. It will be my honor to bring you all a fantastic finished product to view on your computer screens.

-Earl Bolden, Jr. – Producer, Solo Journey Productions, LLC
For the DMV VSBs: Next Saturday night, November 3rd is another edition of Reminisce. You already know what it is by now. All 90s hiphop/r&b all night long. Sounds by Supa Qool DJ Quartermaine and FREE entry before 11pm with RSVP ($10 otherwise)/OPEN BAR from 930-1030PM/and NO DRESS CODE! RSVP here: http://reminiscedc.eventbrite.com

 

 

VSB: The Series – It’s The Campaign Home Stretch So Panama Acts A Fool For You

“Although we’ve come….to the end of the road…I just can’t let go….”

Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve nearly reached the end of our fundraising campaign for our pilot. We’ve raised a substantial amount of money by any stretch of the imagination. We’ve got a lot of work to do ahead of us and a lot of shoutouts and videos to make to thank individuals for their support.

But we’re not done yet. And we’ve not reached our goal. Are we going to reach $20,000? Probably not. But can we still hope to raise as much as humanly possible by Wednesday at 1pm? Absolutely.

So we’re pleading with anybody who has waited to donate for whatever reason to donate as much or as little as possible because every little bit helps. After Wednesday, we take what we have and we figure out how to make the absolute best product we can with what we have. Of course, we will update everybody because we’re excited. Andrea, Earl and the cast are excited to get rolling.

Hell, The Champ and I (that was the first name of VSB, but I felt left out) can’t wait to get this show on the road.

So on these last few hours, we ask that anybody who has been meaning to donate, now is the time. It’s almost over. That’s what she said.

So go to our Indiegogo page, and hit donate. $1, $5, $10…whatever little bit that’s available is a big help. I’d personally come out and kiss every baby if I could.

But since I can’t I recorded that video up there as a short thank you. And there’s more coming.

So thank you in advance. We’re down on bended knee. Let’s not wait til the water runs dry. There are definitely four seasons of loneliness, but uhh ahh, please don’t go without hitting up our Indiegogo page.

It’s the end. Let’s bust through strong. Heheheheh.

PJ3…out.

VSB: The Series-Indiegogo Page

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. RAINBOW HAIR AND GUITAR aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

Five Dollar Friday

Hello VSB Nation. Because I haven’t finished the hour long wall slide I usually do after the Steelers lose, I’m going to keep it short tonight.

On behalf of everyone involved with our TV pilot project, I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed so far. Due to your collective efforts and a very generous donation ($5,000!!!) from VSB vet Derek Bellard — won’t reveal his screename, but trust me when I say that each VSB regular would recognize it if I did — we’re up to $7,500. We’re aware that all donations, even the smaller ones, come from people’s hard earned money, and we greatly appreciate the fact that you all have enough faith in us to support the project.

With that being said, we’re still quite a ways from our goal. We have less than two weeks to raise over $12,000. But, although this may seem like a daunting task, we think we may actually be able to make a substantial dent in that number today.

How? Well, we are asking everyone — yes. everyone — who visits here today to go to our Indiegogo page and donate $5. Not $10. Not $20. Not $100. Just five bucks. That’s it.

With our usual daily traffic, we’d make a pretty nice dent if we received $5 from even 5% of the people who will visit the site today. I think we can do a little better than 5% percent, though.

Also, if you know anyone who may not be aware of VSB but would be interested in seeing a project like ours make it to the screen — and has five bucks to spare — please share Five Dollar Friday with them. Facebook, Twitter (with the #fivedollarfriday hashtag), email, word of mouth, and pigeons all work.

And, as a special perk, everyone who takes part in Five Dollar Friday today and today only will receive a PDF version of “Your Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm At Night.” If you’ve already read the book and don’t need another copy, I’m sure you might know someone who would, so regift it to them and tell them you bought it. They won’t know the difference.

Thank you, and happy Five Dollar Friday!

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Also, a special thanks to the following people who’ve supported the project.

+100
Patrick Charles
Courtney Bethel
+50
Canaan McCaslin
Ajamu Matthews
Mona Al Jneibi
Kimberly Johnson
+20
Kalimah Vereen
Joe Edwards
LaToryria Matthews
Angela Dugan
Sebastian White
Marissa Joy
Shawn Morrow
Jason Lemon
Joel Penigar
John Porche
Marcus Williams
Adrean Mabry
Chandra Hampton
Yvonne Kennedy

Five Things That’ll Happen If You Don’t Support VSB: The Pilot

Please help us keep these men off the pole

Although I’ve been taught that positive reinforcement is the best way to motivate and inspire, I’ve found that for me, personally, the experience of being scared shitless seems to help best. For instance, nightmares about the jailhouse jelly man are the reasons why I decided not to be a drug dealer (Well, that and the fact that you can’t be a hustler and lactose intolerant at the same time. Can’t be an efficient corner boy if you need to take breaks every 30 minutes to find a clean toilet), and the little jackals running around with cigarettes and open packs of dog food every time I go to Target are why I don’t think I have any kids.

Anyway, I’m bringing this up because, while wanting to support us and our project is a noble reason to give, perhaps knowing what would happen if we didn’t receive the necessary support may be a more effective strategy.

With this in mind, here’s five things that’ll likely happen if you don’t support VSB: The Pilot

1. You will die

Now, I realize this is a little misleading. Seeing that all of us are going to pass away someday anyway, you’re going to eventually die and shit whether you support our project or not. But, with all that being said, the fact remains that if you don’t visit our Indiegogo page, you will die. We will too, actually. So, well, support us.

Or die.

2. Lead actors David Hunter Jr. and Leo Breckenridge will be forced to return to their normal jobs (stripping and doing quality control on samples of gluten-free turkey chili passed out at Trader Joe’s, respectively)

Both extremely talented young actors, David and Leo are very much looking forward to being a part of this project. David (who’s playing “Brandon,” the guy loosely based on me), is a Hampton University grad and received his B.A. in Theatre Arts Performance. After graduating, David began performing with the Improv Troupe, “5-6-7-8” at several venues in the DC Metro area including the DC Capitol Fringe Fest and the Improv’s home base, the Washington DC Improv and won several awards for his work.

Since re-locating to Los Angeles, he’s been very busy adding a number of short films, independent feature length films, theatre productions and commercial credits to his resume.

Leo (who’s playing “Andre,” the character loosely based on Panama) began his professional career touring the United States as “Emmett Till” in the critically acclaimed stage production “Anne & Emmett” under the direction of OBIE award winner Robbie McCauley, and then three time TONY award winner Hinton Battle. He went on to play “Duke Ellington” in the award winning film short “U Street.” He more recently made his Los Angeles stage/film debut in the controversial production “TORN: The Willie Lynch Letter.”

Thing is, despite David and Leo’s obvious talents, the adverse economy hasn’t allowed each of them to leave their day jobs yet. This project will do a lot in making that happen, so if you want to keep David off the pole and Leo out of those God-awful Trader Joe’s quality control meetings were they make him sit Indian-style for five hours straight while he samples meat from Youngstown-bred orphan turkeys, support the series.

3. Liz will put a curse on you

I’m still not exactly sure which religion Liz practices (and I’m not sure if she knows either), but I do know that whatever religion it happens to be, it involves curses.

4. Panama and I will organize a fund-raiser/BBQ for VSB Nation in the last week of October, when the weather is still nice enough to have an outdoor event. Except by organize a fundraiser/BBQ for VSB Nation I mean “pretend like we’re really inviting you all to D.C. for a fundraiser/party, when we’re really just gathering you all in one place so we can rob you.”

It would behoove you (and your pockets, wallets, and pride) to believe me.

5. Tyler Perry will remake “Love Jones.” (And “Boomerang.” And “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.” And “The Passion of The Christ.” And “Citizen Kane.” And Kim Kardashian and Ray J’s sex tape.)

Look, we’ve already seen how hysterical people got at the mere suggestion that Tyler Perry was going to remake “Love Jones,” but trust me when I tell you that if VSB: The Pilot doesn’t happen, you WILL see Madea and Darius Lovehall (played by Chris Brown) on the same screen. I can’t go into exactly why it’s going to happen — or how I know this will happen — but it will, and you can’t say you weren’t warned by me first.

Scared shitless yet? Good. Now go and unscare yourself, or I’ll track down the jailhouse jelly man and have him guest post this week.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

***If you haven’t already, check out “Signs He Just Might Hate Women” — my latest at Ebony.com, and “Very Smart Brotha Gives Very Smart Dating Advice to a Very Single Mom (Part II)” over at Black and Married With Kids***

And for those folks in the DMV, this Saturday, October 6 is another edition of Reminisce, our all 90s everything hip-hop/r&b/dancehall party at Liv Nightclub in Washington, DC. It’s free before 11pm with RSVP (http://reminiscedc.eventbrite.com) and there’s an open bar from 930-1030pm with no dress code. Come to party, leave to remember. Reminisce. Peep the flyer and FB invite: http://www.facebook.com/events/325601340869364/